Building The Perfect Backyard Pergola: Three Points You Should Know

21 November 2014
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles


With the temperatures are beginning to warm up in Australia, many people begin storing away their winter woollies for another year, and start reaching to their shorts and singlets instead. Outdoor living is popular this time of year with barbecues being fired up each night for easy eating in the fresh air. Before you suffer from another year of sunburn and overheating while you are outside turning the prawns, it is time to get your pergola built and ready for use. Here are three things you need to know about pergolas, like those at Apollo Patio Roofing, so that it becomes a quick and easy project for you.

Council Permits

The first step you must take is to contact your local council and find out what permits are required to build a pergola in your backyard. Some councils have no requirements at all, but others have specific planning and building permits that you will need before you can begin. The information that you will need to get these permits includes:

  • What materials you are using to build the pergola. Homes that are situated in high risk bush fire locations need to meet minimum requirements when using timber for structures.
  • Whether you will be putting a roof on your pergola. A shade cloth is unlikely to trigger a permit requirement, but a solid roof will change the classification of your pergola.
  • The depth of your pergola footings, and whether it is to be attached to the house are both details that you will need to know so that you can justify the structural integrity of the pergola.

Ask your council what would class your pergola to have an exemption under their permit policies. It may work out that you only have to make minor changes to your plans, and then you do not need a permit at all.

Pergola Kits

The easiest, and fastest, way to build a pergola is to purchase a pergola kit. Within this kit you will find the timber and bolts you need to put a pergola up in the space of the weekend. If you do plan to go down this road, keep the following questions in mind before you buy the kit:

  • What material is used for the pergola? Wood, for example, is not the best choice for a pergola in regional Victoria as it has been described as "one of the most fire prone areas in the world." In these areas, metal poles and bracing would be the better option.
  • What extra materials do you need for the kit? For example, will you require concrete to keep the support posts in place once they have been dug in.
  • What tools will you require to do the job? If you do not have all the tools for the job, you can hire them from your local hardware store. But, if you do this, how much extra will it cost to do so? Does the cost of the tool rental cancel out the savings you will make by doing the job yourself?

Take a list of questions with you when you visit the pergola seller so that there are no unexpected costs or surprises when you are ready to put your pergola up.

Doing It Yourself

Not everyone likes the pergola kit option, and instead prefer to design and build the structure themselves from scratch. This is particularly true if you have an unusual sized patio that needs covering.

While you wish to have the freedom to choose the pergola finishes and hardware yourself, investigating ideas about the different pergola plans available will help you to narrow down the type of pergola you are going to build. You can find ideas for pergola designs at your local library, in magazines, and online at home improvement websites.

Whichever design you chose to proceed with, remember that council permits and tool requirements still both apply to this method of pergola erection.

Get researching now to get your new pergola erected before the full effects of summer hit Australia this year. Not only will you increase the value of your home by adding a pergola to your property, but you will enjoy your time outside at the barbecue so much more when you have a little shelter to retreat under on those hot, sunny days.